T Nation

Tom's WS4SB Log

I did Starting Strength about a year ago, made good gains through the Spring and Summer of 08, but suffered from lingering technique problems that resulted in tweaking my lower back pretty hard in the Fall of 08. Got scared, decided to do a fat-loss program, and managed to end up right back where I started. I have made little progress since the beginning of 09, due primarily to the fact that I lift alone, at home, and I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. I also tend to overthink things.

It’s time for that to change. To that end, I found an accomplished local powerlifter and strength coach, and will be seeing him twice a week for the next 3-4 weeks, as needed thereafter. I am joining a local gym that is full of accomplished lifters, and will be training there at least once a week for the foreseeable future.

Long term goals:
Get big and strong enough to scare children.
Stay healthy (I am a software dev and part time student, so I am seated 10+ hours a day)

Short term goals (August 1):
Bench 225x1
Squat 315x1
Pull 405x1
Chin +45x1

Age - 21
Ht - 5’10"
Wt - 190lbs

Current maxes:
Bench - 185x1
Squat - 295x1
Deadlift - 305x1

Crap, crap, and more crap. My lifts are limited by technique and fear.

5 meals a day, probably around 4000kcal. Ground beef, eggs, steak, ground turkey, occasionally chicken, whey, full-fat dairy. If I had to guess at macro ratios, probably 20% carbs, 35% protein, 45% fat. Lots of carbs make me feel tired and stupid, so I don’t make a habit of eating them. Right now my carb sources are whole milk and strained yogurt, various (raw) nuts and green veggies at every meal, and an entire Kashi pizza after each training session.

Training schedule:
Monday - ME Upper
Tuesday - DE Lower
Thursday - RE Upper
Saturday - ME Lower

For the next few weeks, my ME days will be coached at a gym, and me DE and RE days will be done at home.

I do a 20 minute ‘extra’ workout on off days with mobility drills, SMR, and some stretching.

This is my first week. Some notes -

  • For DB exercises, I give the weight of a single dumbbell.
  • notation is wt x reps x sets
  • Unilateral stuff is wt x reps/reps x sets, beginning with weaker side
  • for this post only, weights are from memory because it’s raining and I don’t want to walk out to my garage to get my log book.
  • I feel like my logbook is kind of a crutch, and will be weaning myself off.
  • I bought a shitty cable-stack type home gym for cheap off craigslist to supplement my power rack. It doesn’t have weights written on the stack, just numbers.

So far:

ME Upper (Monday, not coached, at home):

A. Bench

God, I’m weak. Could have had 5 if my upper back hadn’t slipped out of place.

B. DB Bench

Easy. Nice pump.

C1. BB Row

I suck at these. Good reason to keep doing them.

C2. Face Pulls (with jumpstretch bands)

1" x8
1/2" x12x3

D. BB Shrugs

E. DB curlz

DE Lower (Tuesday, at home):

A. Box Jumps
7 sets of 2-3, with various heights.

Just trying to figure out what to do here, have never done jump training before, I like it a lot. My boxes for box jumps are made of cinder blocks with bumper plates piled on top.

B. Bulgarian Split Squat (front foot on 45lb bumper)

C. Ghetto Reverse Hyper

Really bad at these. Weak glutes.

D. Standing abs (with jumpstretch band)


First coaching session. Just an assessment. Talked about my goals, then took me through a warmup to see how I moved. My hip mobility is good, apparently, I guess the daily mobility stuff has been paying off.

RE Upper (Thursday, at home)

A. DB Bench

Painful. The good kind.

B1. Lat Pulldown
#9x8 (mistake)

B2. Band pull-aparts

C. Lateral Raises
15x8x2 (crappy form)

D1. BB Shrugs

Felt good on the traps, not so good on the lower back. I will either do these behind the back or with DBs from now on.

D2. Zottman Curlz

I love these.

E. Plate pinch
3 10lb standard plates x 30s/30s x 3

Saturday morning is ME Lower. I will be squatting, I think.

I was also thinking about just doing a DE day for legs, and a RE day for upper body.

Whats your reasoning for doing this?

[quote]BlackLabel wrote:
I was also thinking about just doing a DE day for legs, and a RE day for upper body.

Whats your reasoning for doing this?[/quote]

Primarily, because it’s part of the WS4SB III template, and I don’t want to monkey with the program.


In his original template (and part 2), there is no DE Lower day, it’s a 3-day a week program. I think the rationale is that most athletes will not be able to tolerate an RE lower day in addition to all their sport-specific practices.

Also, jumping is fun.

ME Lower

Dyanmic warmup

A. Squat

B1. Back ext.

B2. Situps

C. Sled
3 plates x 30m x 2
3 plates + 50 x 30m x 2
5 plates + 50 x 30m forward and backward
5 plates + 50 x 40m backward

Worked with my coach today. I have all the mobility I need to squat, I just wasn’t doing it right. He says I have a “good base” but my upper back is really weak.

Then he tried to kill me with a sled.

ME Upper

A1. Bench


B1. T-Bar Row

I’m not that weak, I swear, it was an EFS T-bar row machine with a 6ft long lever.

B2. Bar pushups

C1. Pull downs

C2. Plate raise

Worked with coach again today. My bench form is pretty bad, I think I had about 3 good reps, total. I am bringing the bar down too low. Also, and this is my opinion, my chest is really weak compared to my triceps. He had me take a wider grip than I usually do on bench, and it was much harder.

So, this is really no longer DeFranco’s WS4SB.

It’s just Westside for This Particular Skinny Bastard. WS4TPSB, if you will.

Here is what things will look like for the next 4-6 weeks (no change to training schedule).

For some reason, when I don’t write the weight, I prefer to write sets x reps.

RE Upper
Dynamic warmup + YTLs 2x10
A1. Ghetto T-Bar row* 4x12
A2. Bar pushups 4x12
B1. Lat Pulldown w/ neutral grip 4x12
B2. Plate raises 4x12

RE Lower (replaces DE Lower)**
A1. Back Extension 4x12
A2. Weighted situps 4x16
B. Sled dragging, forwards and backwards

“ME” Upper & “ME” Lower
Coached, not up to me.

In addition to varying amounts of stretching, mobility, and SMR, I will be doing 40 pushups and attempting to complete them in one set.

  • These will be ghetto-fied when I train at home: neutral grip rows with DBs facedown on an incline bench.
    ** Yes, I will miss jumping.

I feel good. Simple and effective, exactly what I need. I can’t believe it took me this long to man up and ask for help.

RE Lower

A1. Back Extension

A2. Weighted Situps

C. Sled dragging
3 plates x yard
4 plates x yard x 4
4 plates x yard x 2 (backwards)

D. Pushups

My chest, back, and shoulders are quite sore from yesterday.

I rigged up a back extension machine by putting my bench on cinder blocks inside my power rack, then positioning the bar just above the bench and loading it up with 315. I stuck my ankles under the bar and hung off the end of the bench to do the back extensions. Not exactly comfortable, but it’ll do.

My yard was about 18m, so I turned around as fast as I could and came back for one trip

For pushups I took my “grip” out pretty wide, about as wide as my coach wants me to bench.

Today was an off day

Chest and back still a bit sore.

shoulder dislocations
hip flexor stretch
glute bridge
1-leg glute bridge
“supine high kicks”
fire hydrant circles
fire hydrants
pushups BWx15,12,13

Glad I did shoulder dislocations first, they hurt like hell but they made my chest much less sore by the time I was done.

RE Upper

A1. Ghetto T-Bar rows

A2. Bar Pushups

B1. Lat Pulldowns
110x12 (too heavy, will start here next time)

B2. Plate Raise

Bar was slightly above knee for pushups, grip as wide as my bench grip.

I don’t own 30lb plates, I held onto a 25 and a 5, which made things a little more difficult.

Now I am going to eat a pizza and study for a quantum mechanics/statistical mechanics test.

So, I’m not really doing ME and RE, it’s just that some days are 5’s with a big movement and some are accessory only. Also, my coach is going to put me on a modified 5/3/1 in a few weeks, so I need to get the mods to change the name of this log.

Today was:

A. Trap bar DL (I’m guessing the trap bar is 45)

B. DB Bulgarian split squats

C1. Reverse Hyper

C2. Inchworms

The C superset made me feel queasy. Both of those movements are pretty hard. Initially I was supposed to do 3 sets, but coach had me stop after two.

This weekend has really sucked.

I got a call from work at 7pm on Friday, one of our customers had a defect that halted production, I finally wrapped that up at about 1pm today, so I have to finish a metric shit-ton of homework this evening.

We shall see if my daily mobility stuff happens, it didn’t yesterday.

This week training will be a bit different, lower body on my own on Monday, upper body with my coach on Tuesday, then Thursday and Saturday normal (upper and lower respectively).

Today was


Back Extension


3 plates x yard x 2 forwards
3 plates x yard x 2 backwards
3 plates x yard x 2 forwards

I forgot to do my pushups all weekend, and actually improved!

Took things kind of easy today because I felt like crap. Lots of stress this weekend, lots of stress today, not enough sleep, etc.

I actually went down in weight on the last set of back extensions so I could really focus on squeezing my glutes to complete the movement.

Almost pussed out after the backwards sled drags because it was raining so hard, but I had already dropped a plate from the last session, and I didn’t want anyone (me, mostly) to call me a bitch.

Can’t wait for the semester to be over.

Coached today, don’t remember all the weights.



plate raises
25x12x2 or 3

one arm rows

shrug machine

tricep extensions
some x 12
more x 14

About an hour.

My appetite is back.

At work, watching memory leak.

Did not do my mobility stuff or push-ups yesterday, because I fell asleep on the sofa. So I did sleep for most of the evening, that was nice.

That’s three off days in a row I’ve failed to do anything… it will not become a habit, it’s just been a really bad week.

I’m going home whenever I finish with this defect (so, hopefully soon) to do another upper body session.

It’s amazing how much a good workout improves your mood.

At home today:


A1. Ghetto T-Bar rows

A2. Bar Pushups

B1. Lat Pulldowns

B2. Plate Raise

Foam roll piriformis x some

I could barely prop myself up to foam roll, I kept falling over.

I hate my lat pulldown.


That’s not it, but it’s close enough. $150 off craigslist instead of $350 for a new plate loaded lat pulldown + row…

The only thing I have that approximates a neutral grip handle is this handle that looks like a pair of stirrups and has padded grips… I think it’s meant for cable crunches. I think I get a greater ROM, though. I’ll go to fitness exchange and look for a handle this weekend.

Things that suck when your shoulders/arms are all pumped up:

  • Getting out of Underarmour.
  • Putting on and taking off a tight-fitting backpack with 45lbs of plates in it.

Finding a coach is probably the best decision I could have possibly made. I only wish I had done it a lot sooner. That is all.

I don’t particularly feel like keeping up this log.

I’ll still be lifting, I just won’t be updating.

Thanks for reading.